The Masqueraders

Profile:
Lee Hatim, Robert Wrights II, David Sanders, Harold Thomas, Sammie Hutchins

The Masqueraders were one of the longest-lived yet little-known groups in soul music history.
According to an interview with soul collector and historian Greg Tormo, their origins date back to Dallas, Texas in 1958 -- middle-schoolers Charlie Moore (lead vocals) and Robert Tex Wrightsil (first tenor) formed the earliest incarnation of the group, then dubbed "the Stairs," with brothers Johnny and Lawrence Davis in the second and third tenor slots and "Little" Charlie Gibson singing bass.
Circa 1959, the Stairs recorded at least three singles for the local South Town label -- "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man," "Caveman Love," and "Flossie Mae" -- before the Davis brothers left the group and Gibson enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Moore and Wrightsil scrambled to find replacements, with Moore eventually moving to baritone to accommodate new lead vocalist Lee Wesley Jones; tenor Harold Thomas, and bass David Sanders filled out the new lineup, which toured relentlessly throughout Texas.
They often appeared in small towns under the guise of national chart groups, easily emulating the style of any act they so chose -- as a result, they officially renamed themselves the Masqueraders, making their recorded debut under that name with 1963's "A Man's Temptation."

After cutting 1965's "Talk About a Woman" for the Houston label Soultown, the Masqueraders traveled to Detroit to audition for Motown -- informed that their style and approach were too similar to that of the Temptations, the group found themselves stuck in the Motor City with no money to return home, hatching a plan to perform at the local Twenty Grand Club to earn enough cash for return fare.
En route they stumbled on a recording studio owned by La Beat label owner Lou Beatty, who would go on to release five Masqueraders singles ("The Family," "I'm Gonna Make It," "Together That's the Only Way," "Be Happy for Me" and "I Got the Power") spread across 1966 and 1967.
None of their La Beat singles made a commercial impact, however, and the Masqueraders next traveled to Memphis to audition for producer Chips Moman.
The group would proceed to record a total of eight singles at Moman's American Studios beginning with 1967's "I Don't Want Nobody to Lead Me On" -- licensed to the New York label Wand, the song was a minor regional hit, and was later recorded by both former NFL star Rosey Grier and the Gentlemen Four.

To avoid contractual snafus, Moman credited the Masqueraders as Lee Jones & the Sounds of Soul for the 1968 follow-up "This Heart Is Haunted," which he licensed to the Amy label.
After "Do You Love Me Baby" failed to generate much interest, Wand dropped the Masqueraders, and Moman negotiated a new deal with Amy's parent label, Bell -- the three singles that resulted (the minor hit "I Ain't Got Nobody Else," "How Big Is Big," and "Steamroller") represent the creative zenith of the group's career, boasting a gospel-influenced deep soul sound gilded by American Studios' crack session crew.
During this time, the Masqueraders also contributed backing vocals to sessions by blue-eyed soul combo the Box Tops.
Their next single as headliners, 1968's "I'm Just an Average Guy," was their first true national hit -- released via Moman's AGP label, the record reached the number 24 spot on the national R&B charts. "The Grass Is Green" closed out the year, and in 1969 the Masqueraders swelled to a six-piece with the addition of vocalist Sammie Hutchins; when Lee Evans failed to show up for performances, Hutchins assumed his lead vocal spot, a position he assumed full-time when Evans ultimately left the group altogether.

After one final AGP single, "Love, Peace and Understanding," the Masqueraders finally left Memphis and returned home to Dallas, establishing their own Stairway label to release 1971's "Let Me Show the World I Love You"; with little promotion and no national distribution deals to speak of, neither the single nor its 1972 follow-up "The Truth Is Free" attracted any notice outside of Texas, and in 1973 the group returned to Memphis, this time landing with Willie Mitchell's famed Hi label.
After two Darryl Carter-produced singles -- "Let the Love Bells Ring" and "Wake Up, Fool" -- Hi terminated the Masqueraders contract; after a quarter century with the group, he co-founded, Charlie Moore decided he'd had enough and resigned in 1974, paving the way for Lee Evans to return.
In 1975 they signed with Isaac Hayes' HBS label, soon releasing their first-ever full-length album, Everybody Wanna Live On.
Love Anonymous appeared later that same year, but HBS then declared bankruptcy and the Masqueraders spent the remainder of the decade without a recording contract, although they cut a series of still-unreleased demo sessions in addition to maintaining a relentless touring schedule.
After signing with the Atlanta-based Bang label; Moore eventually returned to the lineup; in 1980 the Masqueraders released a self-titled LP that remains their final recorded work to date.

Fast forward to 2017; The Masqueraders had a Hot 100 hit almost exactly 50 years ago with “I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else”; now the vocal group is mounting a long-overdue comeback by way of "America’s Got Talent".
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Albums

9022-921 The Masqueraders - Everybody Wanna Live On album art The Masqueraders Everybody Wanna Live On (Album) HBS, ABC Records 9022-921 Canada 1975 Sell This Version
AB-962 The Masqueraders - Love Anonymous album art The Masqueraders Love Anonymous (Album) HBS, ABC Records AB-962 US 1977 Sell This Version
NJZ 36321, JZ 36321 The Masqueraders - The Masqueraders album art The Masqueraders The Masqueraders (Album) Bang Records, Bang Records NJZ 36321, JZ 36321 US 1980 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

ST-201 The Masqueraders - Talk About A Woman / That's The Same Thing album art The Masquaders* Talk About A Woman / That's The Same Thing (Single) Soultown (5) ST-201 US 1965 Sell This Version
P 1540 The Masqueraders - A Family album art The Masqueraders A Family (Single) La Beat Records (2) P 1540 Canada 1966 Sell This Version
P 6606 The Masqueraders - I'm Gonna Make It / How album art The Masqueraders I'm Gonna Make It / How(7", Single) La Beat Records (2) P 6606 US 1966 Sell This Version
WND 1168 The Masqueraders - I Don't Want Nobody To Lead Me On / Let's Face Facts album art The Masqueraders I Don't Want Nobody To Lead Me On / Let's Face Facts (Single) Wand WND 1168 US 1967 Sell This Version
P-6702 The Masqueraders - Be Happy For Me album art The Masqueraders / The L.P.T.'s* The Masqueraders / The L.P.T.'s* - Be Happy For Me (Single) La Beat Records (2) P-6702 US 1967 Sell This Version
WND 1168 The Masqueraders - I Don't Want Nobody To Lead Me On / Let's Face Facts album art The Masqueraders I Don't Want Nobody To Lead Me On / Let's Face Facts(7", Promo) Wand WND 1168 US 1967 Sell This Version
P 6704 The Masqueraders - I Got The Power / Together That's The Only Way album art The Masqueraders I Got The Power / Together That's The Only Way(7", Single) La Beat Records (2) P 6704 US 1967 Sell This Version
P 6705 The Masqueraders - One More Chance / Together That's The Only Way album art The Masqueraders One More Chance / Together That's The Only Way(7", Single) La Beat Records (2) P 6705 US 1967 Sell This Version
WND 1172 The Masqueraders - Sweet Lovin' Woman / Do You Love Me Baby album art The Masqueraders Sweet Lovin' Woman / Do You Love Me Baby (Single) Wand WND 1172 US 1968 Sell This Version
108 The Masqueraders - I'm Just An Average Guy / I Ain't Gonna Stop album art The Masqueraders I'm Just An Average Guy / I Ain't Gonna Stop (Single) AGP Records 108 US 1968 Sell This Version
OSS-8544 The Masqueraders - I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else / I Got It album art The Masqueraders I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else / I Got It (Single) Bell Records OSS-8544 Australia 1968 Sell This Version
114 The Masqueraders - The Grass Was Green album art The Masqueraders The Grass Was Green (Single) AGP Records 114 US 1968 Sell This Version
115 The Masqueraders - Only Ment To Wet My Feet / I'm Just An Average Guy album art The Whispers / The Masqueraders The Whispers / The Masqueraders - Only Ment To Wet My Feet / I'm Just An Average Guy(7", Promo) AGP Records 115 US 1968 Sell This Version
122 The Masqueraders - Love, Peace And Understanding / Tell Me You Love Me album art The Masqueraders Love, Peace And Understanding / Tell Me You Love Me (Single) AGP Records 122 US 1969 Sell This Version
B 874 The Masqueraders - How Big Is Big album art The Masqueraders How Big Is Big (Single) Bell Records B 874 US 1970 Sell This Version
B-932 The Masqueraders - Brotherhood / Steamroller album art The Masqueraders Brotherhood / Steamroller Bell Records B-932 US 1970 Sell This Version
S71 The Masqueraders - Let Me Show The World/ Masqueraders Theme album art The Masqueraders Let Me Show The World/ Masqueraders Theme(7", Sin) Stairway (2) S71 US 1971 Sell This Version
C 4500 The Masqueraders - I Want You Back / I'm Just An Average Guy album art The Larks / The Masqueraders The Larks / The Masqueraders - I Want You Back / I'm Just An Average Guy (Single) Cobra (8) C 4500 US 1972 Sell This Version
S72 The Masqueraders - The Truth Is Free album art The Masqueraders The Truth Is Free(7") Stairway (2) S72 US 1972 Sell This Version
45-2251 The Masqueraders - Now That I've Found You album art The Masqueraders Now That I've Found You (Single) Hi Records 45-2251 US 1973 Sell This Version
45-2251 The Masqueraders - Let The Love Bells Ring album art The Masqueraders Let The Love Bells Ring(7", Promo) Hi Records 45-2251 US 1973 Sell This Version
45-2264 The Masqueraders - Wake Up Fool / Now That I've Found You album art Masqueraders* Wake Up Fool / Now That I've Found You (Single) Hi Records 45-2264 US 1974 Sell This Version